Pit of Unrest
October 21, 2009 § Leave a comment
Members of the Chicago Lyric Opera’s pit orchestra have been without a contract since April. After the Lyric’s management “walked out of negotiations July 7”, orchestra members have resorted to grass-roots methods, such as handing out brochures, to gain support for their cause. The players, members of the Chicago Federation of Musicians, argue that the pay cuts, unfair stipulations, and shortened contract term proposed by Lyric management will ultimately lead to a serious deterioration in the quality of the orchestra. They also point out that between 2001 and 2007, the Lyric’s top administrators received an increase in pay and benefits of almost 35%, while orchestra members received a 24% raise.
While each union negotiation is different, and certainly there are specific problems to be addressed within the CLO, today’s current issue forum made me think about the responsibility administrative staff to inform orchestra members about the state of their organization. Perhaps negotiations would be easier if everyone really knew what was going on. For example, when musicians in the Salt Lake Symphony became concerned about their finances, they approached management to take a voluntary 5% pay cut. While this is not typical and likely would not happen within most organizations, perhaps a little more transparency would be beneficial to everyone.